The Flood Re story
It might feel like we’ve seen a lot of rain in the past year, but in 2007 the UK experienced the wettest summer on record. The consequences were far more serious than spoiled holidays. In England and Wales some 414mm of rain fell between May and July and, for residents, the effect of that downpour was devastating.
BBC reports from the time highlighted flooded villages such as Tewkesbury, cut off from the outside world and requiring the assistance of the RAF and Army to evacuate prone households. Three people died, while on the nearby M5 10,000 motorists were stranded overnight.
Even after the waters subsided and clean ups were complete, the consequences of living in a once flooded property were only just beginning. Homeowners and tenants, looking for buildings and contents insurance, found themselves priced out. Premiums had rocketed.
Step forward Flood Re.
Behind The Scenes
While the name may not be familiar, if you’re the owner or a tenant in a flood-affected property their work will almost certainly have impacted you for the better. Following the floods of 2007, the Government and insurers worked together to find a solution to the problem of escalating insurance costs. Flood Re was born with the core mission of providing affordable insurance for properties affected by, or at risk from, flooding.
Kelly Ostler-Coyles, Head of Communications for Flood Re, explains how the scheme works: ‘We’ve helped over half a million properties since being established. All UK domestic home insurers pay into our scheme. They pay what we call a levy to our scheme for us to run.’
This levy raises some £135m every year and insurers can then use the scheme to underwrite the flood risk part of a policy. Kelly went on to say: ‘So when you go to take out your home insurance policy, your home insurer, who gives you a quote, will decide whether or not they’re going to cede you to Flood Re and that all happens in the background. And when you make a claim, you make a claim via your home insurance company and then we reimburse the insurer. So everything’s done by your insurance company rather than through Flood Re.’ This also includes insurance bought through comparison sites.
The Question of Eligibility
And who’s eligible for the scheme? Flood Re was set up to cover domestic households, rather than businesses, so if you have a Council Tax band and your property was built before 2009, you may be eligible.
If you’re wondering why 2009 is the cut-off point, this is the date where housing developers were required to avoid building on floodplains and to build with appropriate consideration for flooding. In theory at least, properties built after this date should be at minimal risk and flood cover is a standard part of buildings and contents policies.
But if you are unfortunate enough to have experienced flooding yourself, you’ll know there’s an emotional as well as financial toll from a flooding episode. The prospect of having to go through it all again is a daunting one. That’s where Flood Re’s latest scheme can help.
In 2022 Flood Re established the Build Back Better scheme to help flooded homeowners make their homes more resilient for the future. Kelly explains: ‘Build Back Better is for a participating insurer of the Build Back Better scheme where, if you are flooded, you can get up to £10,000 extra on top of your normal reinstatement cost to install flood resilient and resistor repairs.
‘We launched last April (2022) and we have a number of insurers that are live. And then we have a number of insurers that are gradually coming on board offering the policies.’
An Eye Towards The Future
Even while Flood Re offers innovative schemes such as Build Back Better, it keeps an eye fixed firmly on the future, a future where it doesn’t exist. Come 2039, Flood Re is on target to having completed the work it set out to do.
Kelly explains why: ‘It is our hope, and it’s certainly what we are trying to do with everything we do in Flood Re, to be able to leave the market in 2039 with a UK that is more protected against flooding than when we came in. So essentially what we want to be able to do is leave the market so that there can be risk reflective pricing, there can be a functioning market, because people are managing their flood risk at a property level, and flood defence level. We’ve the right flood defences in place and a planning system that is working properly and everyone’s playing their part in the jigsaw.’
And what’s the one thing you can do to make sure you’re an effective part of the jigsaw? If you’re a homeowner with a property at risk of flooding Kelly advises this: protect the heart of your home. Have a plan in place to quickly and safely remove the items most precious to you when the rains start and avoid the heartbreak of losing treasured items.
Want to know more about Flood Re and the Build Back Better Scheme? You’ll find links to the Flood Re and Blue Heart websites below, along with advice on how to make your property more flood resilient.
About Flood Re
Build Back Better Scheme
Be Flood Smart
If you’re living in a rented property
If you need flood insurance for your business